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Grayson rumbles past Valdosta to reach second straight quarterfinals

CJ Hyland scored a team-high 25 points to pace the Rams past the Wildcats

LAWRENCEVILLE, GEORGIA – Heading into Saturday afternoon’s Class 7A second-round matchup, Valdosta had only allowed 70 or more points in a game to a team from the state of Georiga once.

On Saturday against the No. 2 ranked Grayson Rams, it happened for a second time.

Behind a 25-point explosion from point guard CJ Hyland and swarming team defense, the Rams caught fire in the second quarter and never looked back en route to a dominant 76-53 win over the Wildcats to advance to the 7A quarterfinals for the second year in a row.

CJ Hyland goes up for a layup here against Valdosta. Hyland led the Rams with 25 points in the win. 

CJ Hyland goes up for a layup here against Valdosta. Hyland led the Rams with 25 points in the win. 

Hyland, who came over to the Rams this season after playing his first two years at Lanier, shot 9 of 12 from the field, grabbed six rebounds and also stole five passes in the win.

“We’re hard on him, just because we know what he’s capable of doing,” Rams head coach Geoffrey Pierce said of Hyland. “He’s a very good point guard. A good basketball player. So just being aggressive, staying in attack mode and putting pressure on the defense. He had a lot of good draw and dishes for corner threes. He had a really good game.”

The Rams couldn’t get a shot to fall in the first quarter.

After dropping nearly 100 points in their Round 1 win over Marietta earlier this week, the Rams came out of the gates shooting just 3 of 14 from the field in the first quarter Saturday afternoon.

But thanks to great defense, the Rams still led the Wildcats 12-4 heading into the fourth quarter.

Their defense got even better in the second quarter and it led to a lot of easy buckets for the Rams. After scoring six points in the first quarter, Hyland dropped in 12 more in the second quarter.

They opened up the second quarter on a 16-3 run and they turned the Wildcats over six times during that stretch.

A Chad Moodie dunk gave the Rams a 28-7 lead with just over three minutes left in the quarter and by halftime, the Rams had opened up a 37-16 lead over the Wildcats.

Kayden Allen dunks home a basket in Grayson’s 76-53 win over Valdosta. 

Kayden Allen dunks home a basket in Grayson’s 76-53 win over Valdosta. 

After starting off the game shooting just 21 percent from the field in the first quarter, the Rams shot 69 percent from the field in the second quarter (11 of 16) and it was sparked by their lockdown defense.

“I thought we turned up the intensity on defense,” Pierce said. “Flying around, diving for loose balls, things of that nature. We were missing shots that we had been hitting recently, but defense is all effort. So I thought we had a good game defensively. That kind of led to us getting things going in transition.”

The Wildcats finally found some offense in the third quarter after being held to just 16 points in the first half.

Valdosta scored 20 points in the quarter, but the Rams were a tick better. After scoring 25 points in the second quarter, the Rams matched it with another 25-point third quarter to take a commanding 62-36 lead into the fourth.

Rams leading scorer Gicarri Harris scored six of his 10 points in the third quarter while Hyland scored five more to reach 23 for the game.

In the fourth quarter, the Rams started a perfect 5-for-5 from the field as Pierce started to pull his starters one by one. Freshman Kayden Allen got extended playing time in the fourth quarter for the Rams and scored six of his 11 points in the quarter.

“Kayden had a good game as well,” Pierce said. “His future is very bright.”

Grayson’s Chad Moodie goes up for a dunk in the Rams’ 76-53 win over Valdosta. 

Grayson’s Chad Moodie goes up for a dunk in the Rams’ 76-53 win over Valdosta. 

The Rams went on to win the game by 23 points and got five players in double figures.

Hyland led the way with 25 while Moodie (12 points), Allen (11 points), Gicarri Harris (10 points) and Laz Mason (10 points) all joined him.

With the win, the Rams will now play host to Walton, who knocked off Peachtree Ridge on the road Saturday night. The game will be held at Archer in what will be the Rams’ fourth straight home game played at their rival’s school.